Bulgaria– A wildfire started to rage in the area of Bulgarias Rila Monastery, burning dry grass and shrubs, it was announced on Friday. The authorities continued to make efforts to contain or extinguish the fire on Saturday.
Some 180 people are struggling to contain the forest fire in the area of Rila Monastery Nature Park, Chief Commissioner Nikolay Nikolov, head of the GD Fire Safety and Civil Protection, said, speaking for FOCUS News Agency on Saturday.
Some 180 individuals with special instructions, about 30 of whom volunteers, left for the area where the fire is raging at 6:00 a.m., Nikolov announced.
In his words, 2 helicopters of the Bulgarian army joined the operation aiming to control the fire and there 35 individuals from mobile formations taking part in the activities.
Chief Commissioner Nikolay Nikolov added medical services had been secured and a helicopter had been dispatched to take people to the fire area and back in case of injuries.
Assoc Prof Georgi Kostov, Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food, told FOCUS News Agency about 70 forest rangers were also working to bring the fire under control.
The fire was raging in a region that is very hard to access and could not be contained in any other way besides attempting to manually extinguish it, Kostov said.
He also informed the fire had been caused out of negligence.
Those responsible will [in all likelihood] remain unknown as is the case in over 90% of forest fires in the country. According to unofficial information, poaching is most likely the reason [for the fire] there is lots of game in the region but this is unofficial and will hardly be proved, Assoc Prof Kostov commented.
A press conference dedicated to the efforts to tackle the situation was held at around noon at Rila Monastery and Chief Commissioner Nikolay Nikolov as well as Nikolay Nenchev, Minister of Defence, presented information at the event.
The good news is the fire has been prevented from spreading near Rila Monastery, Chief Commissioner Nikolay Nikolov announced.
Nikolov specified the information the fire had been prevented from spreading did not mean it had been contained.
The fire had been then prevented from spreading in 3 directions in the west and south towards Rila Monastery and in the north towards the high part of the mountain. The so-called western section remained critical. Water was released there by 2 helicopters of the Bulgarian armed forces.
Chief Commissioner Nikolov explained there were 291 people working on site to extinguish the fire, 231 of whom were in the area the fire was blazing in.
Nikolov announced he had had a call from the director of an airline in the morning and a third helicopter would be provided.
This helicopter will be used for observation, additional coordination and delivery of water, Nikolay Nikolov stated.
The Chief Commissioner also confirmed negligence was the most probable reason for the fire.
In his words, the conclusion was drawn as no thunder had been reported when the fire had broken out.
Nikolov stressed the authorities had materials pointing to the presence of a bivouac shelter nearby.
The official announced further the possibility of a water barrier was considered.
Nikolay Nenchev, Minister of Defence, also delivered a statement.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and President Rosen Plevneliev declared their support and said cooperation on the part of all the ministries could be availed of, he said.
Minister Nenchev said he thought good organisation this time yielded good results.
Nenchev informed 38 armed forces members, including a medical team, were at the place where the fire was burning.
14 flights have so far been made with the 2 helicopters and some 3,000 litres of water are poured down in a flight, the minister commented.
In his words, the fire fighters had a leading role in the operation and determine the teams actions.
Georgi Kabzimalski, Mayor of Rila Municipality, told Radio FOCUS Kyustendil some 150 decares had been affected by the fire.
In his words, the fire inflicted damages to part of the forests.
A mixed forest was burnt as the fire is located exactly on the border between the [so-called] alpine part and the forest but has been already brought under control in this section, Kabzimalski was explicit.
He informed there was at present no danger posed to Rila Monastery and nearby villas.
At least 250 people are taking part in activities aiming to extinguish the fire raging in Rila Mountain; there are also 3 helicopters, Mayor Kabzimalski explained further.
There were about 200 people in the morning and volunteers keep on coming, so there must be at least 250 now, he specified.
The municipal head added employees of the Southwest State Enterprise, Rila Monastery Nature Park, Rila National Park, and the forestry enterprises in Osogovo, Kyustendil, and Dupnitsa had joined the activities in the morning.
Georgi Kabzimalski stated 2 of the helicopters were pouring down water, while the third one was taking people to the fire area and back.